Why Do My Tires Wobble When Driving?

Not unless you are a fan of the song “Bumpy Ride” by Mohombi, you are not going to like the tremors you feel while driving with wobbling tires. Driving your car with wobbling tires is not a pleasant experience – it is a frightening experience.

This article will explore the different tire wobbling scenarios, including front/rear wheel wobble, wobble at high/slow speed, wobble when braking, and wobble after rotation.

Stick around and learn more about why your car tires wobble and what to do when this happens.

What Does Make Tires Wobble? 

Wobbles and shakes can be due to several issues including, vehicle suspension issues, wheel issues, and tire issues. Check out the details below.

Wheel Alignment Issues

If your vehicle’s alignment is off, expect to experience a slight shaking and vibrations. You will struggle with the steering wheel to maintain a straight course.

Some ways to tell if your car has misaligned wheels are to observe if it pulls on one side and whether the tires wear evenly.

Damaged Suspension

A damaged vehicle suspension can also make your tires wobble. This problem is a little harder to diagnose. It is best to have a mechanic diagnose the problem so that it will be appropriately addressed.

The common issues include bent suspension arms, damaged mounting, and strut and damper issues. These issues will not be determined without a thorough inspection conducted by a professional mechanic at any auto service center.

Unbalanced Wheels

Undoubtedly, unbalanced wheels will give you a bumpy ride. We often confuse ourselves about the difference between wheel alignment and wheel balancing. I previously thought they were the same, but they’re not.

Wheel alignment is keeping your vehicle away from veering to the right or left. It is to ensure that you will experience smooth handling.

Wheel balancing, on the other hand, corrects the unbalanced distribution of weight in the wheels. This requires a tire balancing machine to measure the imbalance.

Uneven Treadwear

Uneven tread wear could be a product of misaligned or imbalanced wheels. It could also be due to a lack of rotation or simply how you drive your vehicle.

Checking the tread wear is probably one of the few things to check first when you experience wobbling tires. See if the tread is wearing evenly by doing an ocular inspection. If you see that the tires are not wearing out consistently, it is best to take your car to the shop for a more accurate diagnosis of the problem.

It could be that your tires just need rotation, or it could be that some issues with your vehicle’s suspension system need fixing.

Flat Spots and Cupping

Flat spots refer to a badly worn section of a tire tread. This is usually caused by locked-up brakes. When flat areas are present on your tire, you will definitely experience some wobbling. 

Another possibility that causes wobbling is cupping. It is when your tire tread has some high and low sections or random high and low spots. This phenomenon is also called scalloping. It is most likely a result of a bad vehicle suspension.

Doing a self-inspection on your tires will help you determine if flat spots or cupping cause the wobbling on your tires. These issues can be challenging to see with your bare eyes. You need to run your hand on the tire’s tread area and make sure to turn it so that you will not miss any part.

As I said, if you discovered an issue on your tire’s tread, it could be due to other underlying problems with your vehicle suspension. You better bring your car to a mechanic for a thorough inspection to avoid worsening the issue.

Bent Wheel

Have you driven into a pothole? A large pothole could possibly cause damage to your tires and the rim. A bent wheel can cause wobble on the tire because it affects the tire tread’s contact patch with the road.

Another possible culprit of a bent wheel is hitting a curb. Hitting a curb will not only possibly damage your rim, but it will also possibly damage your vehicle’s suspension and even the fame.

Rear Tires Wobble When Driving

When the rear tires of your car are wobbling, it could be any of the possible reasons enumerated above that are causing the problem. 

However, my research shows that the common reasons behind wobbling rear wheels include bad wheel bearing, bent rear axle, and bad tires. People in online forums suggest that the wheel bearing is the most important to check first. 

In this video, a guy found out that the cause of the wobbling rear tires is the loose wheel bearing.

As for the bent rear axle will make your tires wobble because your car wheels are constantly turning through it. A bent axle could cause uneven rotation, causing the wheels to rock, especially at high speeds.

Regarding the bad tires as the culprit for the wobble, I think you already understand how this happens. When you have uneven tread wear, flat spots, cupping, or bulge on the sidewall, you would likely feel your car shaking while you drive.

Front Tires Wobble When Driving

Front tire wobble could also be due to an issue with the vehicle’s suspension components. The prevalent parts that cause your tires to wobble if worn out are the axle and the rack. A worn axle boot can lead to grease contamination and cause the joint to bind, affecting its function.

If the steering rack has gone bad, the dirt can damage the inner tie rod end and seal the rack, causing it to leak. When it leaks, the function of the whole suspension system is compromised, causing your tires to wobble.

Aside from suspension issues, the front wheel bearing could also be the problem. A quick way to find out if it is a wheel bearing issue is to lift the car and rock the tire where you feel the wobble. If you see it move, it means that the wheel bearing or the lower ball joint is damaged.

Bad tires are always a suspect for a wobbling problem. It doesn’t matter if it is the front or rear tire. I will not elaborate on this further as I think you already had enough information on how they caused the issue.

Tire Wobbling at Low Speed

When your car tires wobble at low speeds, you likely have physical issues with your tires like flat spots, cupping, and uneven tread wear. Bent rims and/axles and seized joints could also be a reason.

It could also be related to transmission and driveline issues, but it is ideal to do a physical check with your tires. Most drives in forums agree that wobbling at low speeds is more likely related to tire problems. It could be that your tires are slightly out of round.

Tire Wobbling When Braking

We’ve talked about tire issues as the possible reason why your tires wobble at low speeds. Thus, it could also be the reason why you feel a wobble when applying your brakes.

However, the most relevant cause is a problem with the vehicle’s braking system. There is a case called a “warped brake rotor” that is typically causing your wheels to wobble when braking.

Rotor warping happens when it gets thinner because of the heat during braking. This problem is not easy to diagnose as you need to disassemble your braking system to physically check its condition.

In vehicles with drum brakes, the possible reason is out-of-round drums. If your brake drums are not perfectly round, pedal pulsation and vibration can happen when you step on the brakes.

Tires Wobbling After Rotation

There are various answers you will find online on why car tires wobble after rotation. However, the most common suggestion in online forums is to check if the lug nuts are not loose and tighten up if they are.

Others suggest that it could be a slightly bent rim or uneven tread wear causing the problem. Some people also shared that they’ve experienced such an issue, and the fix was wheel balancing.

Is It Safe to Drive if Your Tires are Wobbling?

Some people say it is hard to tell whether it is safe to drive a car with wobbling tires unless the problem is diagnosed. For me, that is the problem! Not knowing what the actual issue is making it unsafe to drive a vehicle with wobbling wheels. 

Maybe not that dangerous, but it is still risky to continue driving the car with wobbling tires. Although it may not cause you immediate accidents when you start experiencing the wobble, it indicates that you must take your vehicle to the shop because it is sick. Besides, I don’t think you would like the earthquake-like feeling.

What Can You Do if Your Tires Started Wobbling?

If you notice that your tires wobble, you can do self-inspection of the tires. See if they are not out of round. Feel them. Check if the tread is evenly wearing, and look for possible flat spots and cupping. 

If you have a jack, you can lift the vehicle and rock the wheels to see if it is a wheel bearing issue.

Other than these essential checks, it is best to take your car to a car shop for an expert mechanic to correctly diagnose the problem and fix it.

Conclusion

Wobbling car tires can be due to tire issues, worn-out vehicle suspension parts, wheel bearing, wheel alignment, balancing, and braking system problems.

Tire wobbles happen in different scenarios including, wobbling front/rear wheels, wobbling when you drive slow, and wobbling when you hit your brakes.

You can perform primary diagnosis when your car tires wobble, like checking the physical condition of your tires. Still, it is highly suggested that you get the help of a mechanic to ensure the problem is appropriately diagnosed and resolved.